It was the summer of 2011, and I’d just completed a harrowing articling year at a big corporate law firm. I was given nearly four months off before returning to work as an associate, and to celebrate my new-found freedom, my sister and I booked a trip to beautiful Croatia.
We flew into neighboring Slovenia, picked up our shiny black Peugeot, and with nothing but a map, a few Kunas in our pockets and a lot of misguided optimism, hit the road on a two-week road trip along the Croatian coast.
The first half of the trip was amazing: we drank our weight in Ozujsko in Zagreb,
danced on some solar panels in Zadar,
and met some long-lost extended family in Sibenik.
By the time we hit the buzzing port city of Split, nothing could get us down- not even our un-air conditioned, possibly bed bug infested accommodations.
Our first full day in Split started out splendidly – we enjoyed a breakfast of Nutella on
Nutella crusty white bread on a stunning patio overlooking the Adriatic, and spent the morning exploring Diocletian’s Palace,
before making our way back downtown for our daily “cocktail hour”.
Everything was copacetic- until mother nature called.
The one thing about Europe no one really prepares you for are the bathrooms. With most public facilities, you are forced to leave a Euro – and often, your dignity- at the door, as you shamefully squat above a hole in the ground to conduct your business.
Did I mention that toilet paper costs extra?
After realizing this early on in the trip, I had been actively trying to consume fewer liquids during the day to avoid the horror of this arrangement. For the most part, this worked great. (You know, aside from the severe dehydration, dizziness and near heatstroke).But after one (ok, three) glasses of lovely Croatian wine, I couldn’t avoid it any longer.
So I dragged my sister along in search of a somewhat hygienic, less nightmare-inducing facility. The situation was looking pretty bleak- until I discovered the private washroom stalls in the Split Ferry Terminal.
I handed 5 Kuna to the bored-looking bathroom attendant in exchange for two measly squares of sandpapery toilet paper, and rushed in line behind a dozen other tourists, anxiously shifting my weight from one foot to the other.
Finally, it was my turn. Never before had I experienced so much relief.
I finished my business and turned the lock on the door, only to realize…. It wouldn’t budge.
I took a deep breath and tried the lock again. Still nothing.
Instantly, the panic began to set in.
Ordinarily, I would have just crawled under the door to freedom, however these stalls were, unhelpfully, of the floor-to-ceiling variety.
“Hello??” I called “Can someone help me? I’m locked in”. Although I heard dozens of female voices milling about outside, many of which were in English, not one responded.
Not only was I beginning to feel claustrophobic, the floor-to-ceiling doors were also magnifying the extreme heat, causing me to sweat profusely. Between this and my ensuing panic, I was rocking a 10 on the Whitney scale.
“Hello??” I tried again, this time banging on the stall door with both fists “Can anyone hear me??”
I was starting to wonder whether this sanitary napkin box was going to be the last thing I saw before I died when I heard the sweet sound of my sister’s voice echoing through the crowded bathroom. “Bree?” She asked “Are you still in here?”
“Sherene!” I shrieked, “I’m locked in!! You have to help me”
There was a pause. Then a slight giggle.
“What do you mean you’re locked in?”
“I can’t get out!” I squeaked, fighting back tears, “Seriously!”
“Ok, just a minute”, she replied, sensing the gravity of the situation.
“Can you help my sister?” I heard her ask the attendant, “She’s locked in the bathroom”,
“No,” responded a bored voice, “I only do toilet paper”.
“Just hang tight,” shouted Sherene “I’ll go find someone!”
After what seemed like an eternity of sitting on top of the toilet tank, taking shallow breaths to conserve my quickly fading oxygen, I heard her return. “I’m back.” She said “I found two police officers. They’re going to break down the door”
“Break down the door??” I squeaked, “How?”
“They’ve got an axe” she replied, “stand back”
The excited murmur and occasional shriek of the gathering crowd assured me she was not messing around. Great, NOW these b*tches are paying attention, I thought.
This was not good. The room for error in the approximately 0.5 sq ft. stall was minimal. Any way you looked at it, chances were I was getting decapitated.
I racked my brain for a solution, and remembered a few years back when I accidentally locked myself in my parent’s bathroom. (yes- this happened more than once.) Although I had freed myself in that instance by climbing out (and getting temporarily stuck in) a small, hexagonal shaped window, my dad had later shown me a trick to get the broken lock to open, involving jiggling and pulling up on the lock at the same time.
In a last ditch effort to save myself from being sent back to Canada in a body bag, I tried it out. Miraculously, the door swung open; revealing my sister, two fumbling rent-a-cops, and a crowd of excited, formerly deaf onlookers.
“Oh.. hi.” I said, blushing profusely “I got the lock to work so… I.. uh…guess you won’t be needing that!” motioning at the fisher-price looking axe.
I thanked the rent-a-cops for their assistance and hightailed it out of there; with Sherene laughing hysterically by my side.
“It’s not funny!” I snapped
“Oh but it is,” she replied, snorting.
As you might imagine, this became my sister’s favourite story of the trip, and soon everyone had heard about my little mishap in the Split ferry terminal. I’ve heard more “how many lawyers does it take” jokes than I can count, and I still can’t go to the washroom without my family asking if I need a chaperone.
While I laugh it off, to this day I still carry a few extra bobby pins in my back pocket….just in case.
Question of the Day: Ever locked yourself in or out of something?
Written for today’s DP Challenge: Uncanned Laughter – A misused word, a misremembered song lyric, a cream pie that just happened to be there: tell us about a time you (or someone else) said or did something unintentionally funny.